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Breaking Down the Strengths and Weaknesses of UFC Heavyweight Stipe Miocic

| January 1, 2021 5:55 am PDT
Strengths and Weaknesses of Stipe Miocic

Is Stipe Miocic the greatest heavyweight of all time?

Well, he is definitely the best UFC heavyweight in history. And I would be lying to you if I said, right now, that I would not put Miocic ahead of Fedor Emelianenko as the best to ever do it in MMA at heavyweight.

His competition, his achievements, and his longevity in the sport make it hard to say otherwise.

After all, these are things we can measure, right? Especially when the “Who wins between Fedor and Miocic” argument is as redundant as a horse and cart. They will never fight. Sorry.

I look to such metrics — or things that we use to build a case about who the top heavyweight fighter in the world is — for answers. Then, I gravitate toward other factors when comparing the greatest fighters of all time, whether that is in the UFC heavyweight division or elsewhere.

These other factors are essentially what a fighter does well and what they don’t do well. Then, I put it all together and build my case.

To determine who the best of all time is, I have put together the following piece on the strengths and weaknesses of Stipe Miocic. This should help anyone come to an objective conclusion on the matter.


Key Strengths of Stipe Miocic

If I were to bet on Stipe Miocic going down as one of the most well-rounded UFC heavyweights of all time, I wouldn’t expect the odds to be high at all.

Stipe is, undoubtedly, one of the best fighters on the planet right now. More than this, he is a fighter that doesn’t tend to have many weaknesses to exploit. But he certainly possesses some key strengths that make him the man at heavyweight.

Here are Stipe’s best features.

Great Boxing

A former boxing standout champion, Stipe’s talent with the fists has been crucial to his record-breaking run in the UFC heavyweight division.

Miocic builds everything behind his jab, or his selection of jabs, to be more precise. The most important punch in a boxer’s arsenal, Stipe throws range-finders, flickers, power jabs, doubles, and feints depending on the situation.

In his 2015 bout with Mark Hunt, Stipe demonstrated just how crucial a great jab can be when fighting someone with a shorter reach. Many of those betting on Stipe to win would have taken this into account.

Keeping busy with the jab also allows him to figure out his opponent’s patterns and selection of shots. When he determines he can draw particular punches from the man standing opposite him, he can step back and land when they reset or even duck under looping shots in order to land hooks to the head or body.

Stipe’s understanding of power and technique gives him a huge advantage over other heavyweights on the feet. He has knocked out high-level strikers such as Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos by being the smarter fighter with his hands, footwork, head movement, and shot selection.

His combinations are beautiful to watch.

Did You Know?
Stipe Miocic is a former Golden Gloves boxing champion?.

 Strong Wrestling

Miocic was one of the standout athletes at school and college, competing at NCAA Division I level for Cleveland State University (CSU).

This high-level wrestling background has also been integral to Stipe’s success inside the Octagon. His style is not the flashiest we have ever seen, but boy, is it effective?

While the Ohioan prefers to fight on the feet, he does mix things up with takedowns every now and again. It truly depends on the opponent, as we learned when he fought Francis Ngannou for the first time back in 2018.

Stipe’s takedown defense is very impressive, in particular. But other wrestling-related stats don’t really do him justice here. A bit part of Stipe’s use of his wrestling is feints, which sometimes translate into attempts.

Stipe Miocic’s UFC Statistics
Takedown Average 1.92
Takedown Accuracy 34%
Takedown Defense 70%
Significant Strikes LPM 4.90
Striking Accuracy 52%
Significant Strikes APM 3.75
Striking Defense 55%
Submission Average 0.0
  • LPM = Landed Per Minute
  • APM = Absorbed Per Minute

High Fight IQ

Stipe is up there with the smartest heavyweight fighters of all time.

His cage IQ is through the roof, which is evident by attributes such as adaptability, a deep understanding of what his opponents bring to the cage, and, of course, interchangeable game plans, depending on where the fight goes.

This impressive strategic planning was evident in his rematch with Junior dos Santos at UFC 211. Having been beaten by JDS in their first encounter in 2014, Miocic worked hard on rectifying his failings in the second fight.

That night, he cut the cage off excellently, exposing dos Santos’ slow foot speed in order to set him up against the fence towards a brutal finish.

Against Daniel Cormier at UFC 241, he boxed dirty. He fought on the edge. But he also pulverized Cormier’s body with 14 vicious shots that drained DC towards another excellent stoppage.

Main Weaknesses of Stipe Miocic

He’s well rounded, Mr. Miocic. So much so that it’s difficult to find many holes in his armor.

Just like Amanda Nunes, there are few glaring obvious shortcomings in his game. And the ones that are probably best known are the ones that have been rectified over the years.

Still, Stipe’s weaknesses are there if you look close enough. But let’s start with the one that most fight fans will have surely picked up on.

Submission Game

Miocic has no submission victories on his record.

A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt, he has never been submitted either. The champ lost a charity grappling match in 2019 but has never been dominated in the cage.

And while you could say argue that this highlights his intelligence when brought to the mat by black belts — in that he uses his size and nous to escape from precarious situations — this is the area that some of the other heavyweight fighters in the UFC will be looking at when matched up with Stipe.

But then again, I believe Stipe’s submission defense is excellent. His record speaks for itself. Sure, he’s not going to hunt for submissions, but his strong wrestling base, strength, and intelligence keep him from giving up his back. His escape from Alistair Overeem’s guillotine at UFC 203 is proof of that.

He has had opportunities to submit opponents in the past but has never gone for the kill. This is definitely a weakness, whatever way you look at it. But evidently not enough of a weakness to prevent him from smashing through the division.

Fairly Easy to Hit

We know Stipe as a smart fighter, but he does tend to get hit more often than he should.

In any given fight, you would be silly not to take good odds for Stipe taking punishment.

There are a few different reasons for this.

One, it is down to his style — as a counterpuncher, he is confident enough in his head movement to sit in the pocket and wait for openings. But a smart fighter, like DC, can exploit this by clinching up and landing shots immediately upon breaking out of the clinch.

Two, he has a tendency to keep his hands low — while he is a very good boxer, he can lose concentration at times.

Did You Know?

  Stipe Miocic has been knocked out twice in his career.

  • He lost by way of TKO to Stefan Struve in the second round of their UFC on Fuel TV bout in September 2012. 
  • He also lost by first-round KO to Daniel Cormier in their heavyweight title matchup at UFC 226 in July 2018.

Sloppy Guard

In his first-ever loss to Stefan Struve, Miocic’s guard was simply AWOL when the giant Dutchman landed some ferocious straights to knock him out.

Was his guard relaxed due to his background as a wrestler, or was he careless against a gut with an 84.5″ reach?

Well, Miocic can be sloppy when throwing punches. Especially when his opponent doesn’t immediately buy or respond to his feints and movements.

This leads to the champion looking to move inside with one-twos with careless positioning that leaves him open to counter hooks. If a fighter can back their chin against Stipe and turn his game against him, could this be the answer to beating the champion?

If so, who beats Stipe Miocic? So far, he has lost three fights in his career. Could number four come from his propensity to drop his hands when exchanging shots?

Is Stipe the Greatest Heavyweight of All Time?

There is definitely a case to make for Stipe Miocic being the best of all time at heavyweight.

I’m certain that at least the basic points around his strengths and weaknesses have been covered above. And what we conclude is that his strengths do seem to outweigh those weaknesses. Not all UFC fighters can say that with honesty.

While we will never truly know if Miocic could beat Fedor Emelianenko, he has plenty of huge wins on his record. As much as I am not a fan of MMA math, he has a win over Fabricio Werdum, who submitted Fedor in 2010. That has to count for something, right?

If you’re looking to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of the best UFC fighters in the world, you can start by checking out the following fighters.

Disagree with any of the above? Leave me a comment below!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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